On becoming a connected educator.

As it’s Connected Educator month, social media is chock full of opportunities to…well, connect. There are webinars, courses, connected cafes, special day events, contests, book clubs, and special interviews to name but a few of the events. Participating is lots of fun because you can network, acquire new tools, and learn.

But today, George Couros, in his Principal of Change blog tells another side of the connected educator story that is compelling and should give us all a bit of pause. He reminds us that in our enthusiasm or our singular focus (you pick) to celebrate the virtually connected educator, we often create a them versus us paradigm. And he reminds us that language matters. Do we really mean that being connected online is better than connecting in any other way? What is the connotation of the word “connected”? How can we personalize the idea of connection so that it makes sense for each of us?

Better Together

Being a connected educator to me means:

  • working together
  • leaving isolation behind
  • having collegial conversations
  • being transparent
  • being personally honest
  • being positive
  • having a progressive, forward-thinking stance
  • risk taking
  • reflecting
  • widening one’s peripheral vision
  • opening up as a learner
  • sharing

Can I be a connected educator without social media? Of course, I can. I have met with colleagues after school, in PLC meetings, collaborative inquiry sessions, and vertical meetings. I have attended traditional conferences and unconferences and I have visited other schools in other districts to learn first-hand how they go about the job of  teaching and learning.

Perspective

What social media offers me is choice, opportunity, and timeliness. Here is an initial list:

  1. Personal access to resources.
  2. Just in time delivery, which means I can collaborate with educators when I want to and need to. I can access information that is current. I can access a range of opinions and ideas.
  3. Ongoing support from members of my PLN.
  4. Ongoing learning.
  5. Opportunity to grow leadership skills.
  6. Opportunity to develop my reading, writing, and thinking skills via blog writing etc.
  7. Growth of empathy.
  8. To never feel alone again, regardless of the issue I am facing with my students’ learning.

Connecting with other educators from around the world does not necessarily  make me a better educator. I still have to work at planning and assessment. I still have to develop community in my classroom. I still have to reflect on the craft of teaching and hone my skills. Connecting with other educators from around the world simply makes this work authentic, meaningful, relevant, purposeful, intentional, and dare I say it — fun.

I am a connected educator online because it keeps me on the edge of my seat and on the tips of my toes every day.

But then, I also have a tornado in a bottle sitting on my desk.

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2 Comments

Filed under Professional Learning

2 responses to “On becoming a connected educator.

  1. Cameron

    Julie, that’s an interesting post, and I’m just beginning to reap some of the results of in-person connection. As an adjunct, I haven’t had as much contact with other educators as, I have to assume, full-time teachers do. But through my other job on campus as a Learning Assistant, I’ve become better acquainted with everyone, and have begun to have the kinds of conversations that I should have been having all along.

    I’ve been a connected person online in many other avenues of my life, but never with education, so expanding into that area of interest, as I’ve begun to do face-to-face, is my next goal. So far OOE13 has been a good stepping stone for it, but the engagement rests on me.

  2. msjbalen

    Cameron,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    It’s true that the engagement rests with the learner. Events like OOE13 can only establish the framework and opportunity to engage, the rest is up to us. The challenge for education is to help all students be, as Will Richardson says, “learning ready”, which means that students are self-directed and are able to engage in connectivist learning. Many believe that this is crucial in order for students to be able to adapt to whatever it is the future holds in store for them.

    I often think of how I have talked about ‘life-long learning’ in the past. I feel that what that used to mean and what it means to me now are very different. Ideas around openness, accessibility, and engagement have changed the conversation.

    Julie

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